Don’t hit me: Dodgeball can be bullying

James Vaughn

Dodgeball – the word I feared more than anything when I walked into my elementary school gym. And I’m positive I’m not the only one.

I rarely ever tried actually dodging what was coming at me. When the whistle blew, I’d just stand there shielding myself while two or three balls flew toward me. After what seemed like a second – BAM! – I was out.

Board members at Windham, a school in New Hampshire, voted 4-1 to ban the activity in their district.

“We spend a lot of time making sure our kids are violence-free,” Windham Superintendent Henry LaBranche told the Eagle-Tribune, which covers news in southern New Hampshire. “Here we have games where we use children as targets. That seems to be counter to what we are trying to accomplish with our anti-bullying campaign.”

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education has also recommended banning such activities. Therefore, the school district made the right decision.

For those of you who loved dodgeball in elementary school, take a moment to think back to the times you spent playing dodgeball. Think deeper. Deeper.

Do you hear a soft voice saying, “Please don’t hit me?” That kid was probably embarrassed enough on a daily basis. Why did he have to go through it in class, too? Why should any student have to be embarrassed in order to get a good grade?

Dodgeball can be an exciting activity, but it should not be a required class activity.

Being the runt of the litter – like I was – is not fun when educators are practically giving bullies permission to attack. It’s like handing a convicted murderer a gun and saying, “Now, you play nice.” It’s probably not going to happen.

Because not all students are at the same physical level, dodgeball cannot be played equally. The weaker ones are going to get hit first, leaving them partaking in less physical activity than the others. These students are also presented with at least 20 minutes of embarrassment while they sit in the corner of the gym watching the bullies be celebrated for their success in knocking people out.

I would have much rather spent my gym time reading a good book or writing a masterpiece. But that’s just me.

I understand that a physical education is necessary, but it’s not healthy when it seems more like a punishment. Punishment for what? Being weak, I suppose.

For those of you who are outraged by the decision and think dodgeball is awesome, I’ll give you that – but only if it’s played among friends who like one another.